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Holden’s future product locked in

Next up: Holden will sell the Insignia in high-performance VXR guise from the first half of next year.

Local dealers informed of future model line-up, but Holden keeps quiet

15 Aug 2014

GM HOLDEN has locked down a future product line-up that will consist of more European and American models, and has already shown its Australian and New Zealand dealers what the range will look like in the coming years.

Speaking with media at this week’s Trax 1.4 LTZ launch, Holden's director of sales Peter Keley revealed that the reveal of a future model line-up this far out was unprecedented in the General Motors world.

“We showed the dealers the complete future showroom for the second half of the decade,” he said.

“We were sharing future portfolio for vehicles that are so far down the track that some of the final designs haven’t been done.

“Part of the message of manufacturing declining or finishing in Australia and what is GM’s future view of Holden for NZ and Australia, the access that we were given to show these images of cars so far out in the future – no other place in General Motors showed dealers that type of stuff,” he said.

“That’s unheard of. That to me was the absolute number one sign that GM is committed to the Australian market and the New Zealand market.” Mr Keley did not comment on what vehicles would be coming, but said it would cover a number of segments including light-commercials and SUVs.

When asked whether any of the new models were potential replacements for the Commodore, such as Opel’s Insignia or the Chevrolet Impala, Mr Keley remained coy.

“It could be including some cars you don’t know about at this stage as well,” he said.

Also speaking with GoAuto at the Trax launch, Holden chairman and managing director Gerry Dorizas said the line-up has been confirmed internally, but he did not detail specific models.

“We know what we are bringing,” he said. “I have put an embargo (in place), no-one can talk about it.

“What I can tell you is that we have the best products from around the portfolio that we have coming. What I can tell you and you already know, the passenger car is more a European taste and the rest is more American oriented – SUVs etcetera.” The suggestion of European-focused passenger models could, as previously reported, spell the end of South Korean-produced fare such as the slow-selling Malibu mid-sizer and the Barina and Barina Spark light cars in favour of Opel-sourced vehicles such as the Insignia mid-sizer, Cruze-sized Astra and city-friendly Corsa.

These models were available as a part of Opel’s local line-up during its short-lived stint in Australia that ended after just 12 months following lower-than-expected sales in the ultra competitive new-car market.

Holden has already confirmed it will introduce performance-focused versions of the Insignia and Astra, as well as the Cascada convertible, in the first half of next year as a part of its plan to offer a more diverse model range.

The move to widen the choice for buyers followed the announcement that Holden would close its local manufacturing operations in South Australia and Victoria in 2017.

Mr Dorizas said the company was focused on ensuring the sales success of its existing line-up, including the locally built Commodore and Cruze, but that plans were under way to expand the offerings in the short and long term.

“We have everything planned. Our concentration is to focus on the Commodore, focus on the Cruze, focus on the other products that we have, Mr Dorizas said.

“As you see, you guys requested the (Trax) 1.4, we brought the 1.4. There are a lot of other things that are coming within the short term then the long term, I think in about a year-and-a-half’s time we can discuss it.” When asked whether there would be less of a South Korean focus for future product sourcing, Mr Dorizas said the line-up would be “a mix of everything, but where it is produced, well, we will see”.

Mr Dorizas said Holden would not follow the lead of importers Nissan and Volkswagen, which recently confirmed they would streamline their line-up and discontinue underperforming models such as the Almera and Up.

However, he said there was room to reduce the number of variants in a model line.

“If you’re a full liner, which we are – we consider ourselves as a full liner – I don’t think you can streamline in terms of model. One of our strategies is to rationalise within the versions.

“This is what everyone has done. I don’t think we are going to go and streamline models. On the contrary.” On the light-commercial front, Mr Keley hinted that Holden was evaluating the feasibility of introducing delivery vans to its local line-up, which could be rebadged versions of the recently revealed Opel Vivaro that shares underpinnings with the next-gen Renault Trafic.

“We want to be, and we are, a volume player with a broad portfolio. So to say that we are not looking at vans would be not right, but we are not confirming anything as well,” he said.

“It needs to be the right product and being able to bring it in at the right value equation, and when we find that we will look at it.”

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